This year, I'm lucky to fill a number of roles on campus. My largest role and involvement on campus this year is my involvement with Student Government—as SG President! I never thought that I would get involved with Student Government, but I'm so glad that I did.
One of the scariest things that I have had to do in college is give a speech to almost 4,000 people at the convocation (this is a big welcoming event for incoming students). I spent a long time working on practicing this speech—to speak and to sign! Below is the speech I gave to the RIT incoming class of 2016:
Welcome to the newest members of the RIT Family. A few years ago I was sitting on the other side of this podium, feeling excited for the years ahead, anxious to say goodbye to my parents, and tired of ice breakers. I sat where you are now, looking up at a tall guy wearing an orange blazer, and I thought—what bet do you have to lose to have to wear an orange blazer like that? At that time, I never would have thought that someday *I* would have to wear it.
You see, I’m introverted. A lot of you are introverted, too. In fact, if I’m being honest, standing in front of a large group of people is very terrifying—but college helped me grow. It will help you grow, too. In college you have the opportunity to do or be whomever you want.
Ask any student in the next week: “What are your favorite things about RIT?” Many will say your ability to try and explore so many new things. If you want to knit a sweater for the Tiger Statue, you can do that. Go explore the natural beauty of upstate New York? You can do that. If you’d rather break out your nerf gun and hunt zombies, well of course you can do that.
This Saturday you will have the opportunity to attend the club fair—I suggest you join a club or two (or three, or more). Whether it’s Pep Band or Quidditch (yes, we have a Quidditch team), join something you’ll love, and sign up for something you’ve never experienced before! During the fair, you will be exposed to new groups of people and activities.
For example, you can help raise awareness of mental health with Active Minds, write for the Reporter, join a Club Sport’s team, or even become a DJ at the campus radio station, W I T R. Introverts and extroverts alike are allowed in every club.
For those of you unsure of fraternity or sorority life—look into it. They are incredible...our 31 greek organizations pride themselves on maintaining fantastic GPAs. This past year they donated over $92,000 to their philanthropies, and completed almost 16,000 service hours. Greek life provides another wide array of leadership opportunities!
RIT prides itself on being student centered. A part of that is giving YOU the power to make the changes you want to see on campus. Student Government launched a petition site to get YOUR feedback called PawPrints. We’ve had hundreds of great ideas from students on things to improve right here at RIT. I personally invite you to join our discussions—great suggestions we’ve already implemented include opening the library 24 hours, getting healthier options in the vending machines, and even changing the ID card design!
You’re going to learn a lot this year. You’ll have to truly manage your time. Can you just hear your parents saying “the three hour break between classes is PROBABLY best used for homework, not watching Netflix or taking a nap” — I hate to admit it...but they are right. You’re going to learn that there are so many people on this campus rooting for your success. There are countless offices and resources to help you at every turn.
As Student Government President, I want you to know that my door is open. You know who else has an open door? Your OL. Your RA. Your Professors. Dr. Destler! Everyone’s goal is to make sure that you have all the resources and tools you need to be successful.
College success is different for everyone. For you, it might be your late nights in the machine shop, the research you complete with a professor, the awesome co-op you get with your dream company, or the project you complete after 30 hours in the studio. Success could be going to No Voice Zone, **(I used American Sign Language from here to the end of my speech)** or taking an ASL class to learn to communicate with deaf students.
Success is finding yourself, learning a lot, and having fun.
My door is always open! Come in and look for the orange jacket. Have a great year! Go Tigers!